Thursday, January 11, 2007

Red Bull Air Race

About Air Race:

The Red Bull Air Race is an exciting competition in which the world’s most talented pilots are up against each other in a race based on speed, precision and skill.

The competition features a dynamic new discipline of flying, called ‘air racing’ where the objective is to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the sky in the fastest possible time. Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of specially designed 20m high pylons, known as ‘air gates’.

The Air Race is not just about speed but also precision. The slightest mistake can result in penalty points. Flying low to the ground at speeds that can reach over 400kph, while negotiating the air gates, requires immense skill that only a certain number of pilots in the world possess. That is why the pilots are hand selected based upon their expertise and experience. These pilots are at the top of their game. They have to be – the Air Race exerts huge demands on their flying abilities and they have to withstand forces of up to 10G. There is no room for error.

What makes the ‘Air Race’ so exciting and interesting for spectators is the proximity of the contest to the crowds. Low level flying on a relatively compact course means that people can really experience all the action close-up.

The idea of the Air Race was conceived by Red Bull who then approached renowned Hungarian pilot Peter Beseynei to help them refine the concept. The very first Red Bull Air Race took place at AirPower in Zeltweg, Austria in 2003 and was hailed a great success. It was clear that there was a huge potential for the competition. Subsequent Air Races were then held in Hungary, England and the USA and since then it has evolved into its current format, the Red Bull Air Race World Series. The first World Series kicked off in 2005, taking place in 7 venues across the world with 10 internationally acclaimed pilots competing.

11 pilots will take part in the 2006 Red Bull Air Race World Series in 9 spectacular international locations.

‘Air races’ have their roots in the US but unlike those contests where the objective was purely about speed, the Red Bull Air Race brings another dimension into the challenge – skill. They are using some of the lightest, agile and responsive planes that exist, but ultimately it’s the pilot’s stamina and skill that determines who will be crowned the next Red Bull Air Race World Series champion.


Aircraft suitable for the Red Bull Air Race cost around 230,000 euros each. A conventional sports plane does not come close to having the necessary agility, and the forces encountered in a race would break it to bits.

The planes flown by the Air Race pilots are mostly made of advanced carbon composites that can withstand forces of up to 15G and reach top speeds of around 450 kph. They can fly at speeds as low as 100 kph and still perform their unbelievable manoeuvres. Their maximum roll rate is 420 degrees per second, the equivalent of 70 rpm; a spin cycle that makes it impossible for the pilots to perceive the horizon.

"Air" gates:

A slalom in the sky with pilots speeding through the Red Bull Air Race course at over 400 kph? It's extremely exciting but also very risky. That is why it is so important that the obstacles can deal with impact without any adverse consequence to the plane or pilot. One question that's always asked is: what happens when a plane hits a pylon?

The 'Air Gates', as the pylons are called, have been painstakingly developed by the Innsbruck based company Bellutti Protection Systems. Martin Jehart and his team have designed air gates that disintegrate when a plane collides with them. They are made from a very light and fragile spinnaker material which rips immediately when touched by an aircraft wing or propeller, so that they simply collapse without any damage or danger to the airplane. Within four minutes an air gate can be replaced by a new one.

Despite their fragility the air gates are also very resilient and can withstand wind-speeds of up to 54 kph without being blown over. This is achieved by making the pylons cone-shaped - at their base they measure five metres across and at their tip 75 centimetres.

The air gates stand 20 metres high and the distance between each pair is approximately 10 to 14 metres.


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1/11/2007 2:55 AM  

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